Disclaimer: Buffy and Co is owned by Joss Whedon and all rights remain with Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy. This is written purely for fun and no funds are made from it.
A/N: Ashlyn and some of the creatures are published and owned by me (Wendy Perry) and appear in Ashlyn – The Land of The Dragon (Amazon). Any other original characters and monsters are also mine.
A hard thud that made the ground shake and a loud ‘Ooofff!’ was heard from behind the large mausoleum to Buffy’s right as she passed. Quickly she turned to see if she could see what had made the strange noises. Her eyes flashed around taking in her surroundings as she started to move towards where the sound came from.
“What a stupid thing to do! How could I be so daft?! One day I will learn to watch where I am going! Grrr!”
Buffy peeked around the corner and was taken aback by the sight that greeted her. A lovely young woman was sitting on the grass in an awkward position. Her hands were flipping around as she mumbled to herself, in tones that indicated she was less than happy with herself. She was trying to straighten her clothes and pull her honey blonde hair out of her face. She heard footsteps and jumped up, staring at the girl approaching her with large emerald coloured eyes.
“Hello.” Buffy walked slowly forward, not wanting to frighten the young lady. She noticed her clothes were a strange style, and very much askew. “Are you ok?”
“Yes, thank you. I am just a tad upset with myself for being so …. Oh never mind. I am fine, just a bit bruised I think. I am so clumsy at times.”
“I am Buffy, and you are?”
“I am Ashlyn.” The lady was still trying to sort herself out, and she looked around. She looked at Buffy and smiled slightly, “Buffy Summers? I have heard your name before somewhere. I think I have gone off course into a …” Ashlyn sighs, “I forgot the instructions I was given.” She stood straight with her shoulders back giving herself a look of fake confidence.
“Why not walk with me for a bit, and maybe you will get your bearings again. We are at the Sleeping Meadows Cemetery. We will go out the main gates and walk towards my place. I will make us some coffee if you would like.” Buffy smiled at Ashlyn as they made their way along the path. She took notice of Ashlyn’s clothes, liking the fact that everyday fashion doesn’t concern this woman. She wore a dress, looking both billowy and floating, of a fabric she had not seen before. She also had bare feet. Buffy dismissed the thoughts of fear that wanted to come to the surface immediately and started thinking of what was in her wardrobe she could lend Ashlyn so she would fit in better. Maybe she had some jeans and a sweatshirt.
They arrived at the front door to the house and Buffy opened it. She stepped aside, and watched the young woman step forward, ready to jump if the occasion warranted it. Once Ashlyn stepped through the door, into the house, Buffy followed her and they were soon sitting drinking coffee. Buffy served the donuts she had purchased earlier in the day, and started the conversation.
“I have some clothes upstairs that I think will suit you and help you fit into this town a bit better. The ones you are wearing are nice, but so not for Sunnydale.”
“Sunnydale… is that where we are?”
“You sound surprised. I thought you at least knew the town you were in.” Buffy looked confused, and started to get the feeling this lady was not all she looked like.
“Who are you?” Buffy stood up and looked down at Ashlyn with a serious stare. “What are you doing here? Who sent you?” Buffy walked slowly around the table, not taking her eyes off Ashlyn.
“What do you mean? I told you I am Ashlyn. No one sent me. I just kind of landed here. It’s a very long story…”
“I would suggest you start talking. What do you want, what do you think you will get from here?” Buffy grabbed a knife off the counter and raised it. She held it up menacingly, showing Ashlyn she was serious.
“No! Please, I mean no harm. I will not hurt you, but it seems the hurt has already been done for you to be reacting like this. Buffy, I will not hurt you, but you are definitely afraid of someone who will. Please tell me.”
Buffy laughed at Ashlyn as she slowly moved towards her. Buffy’s hand twitched as she got closer and before she could do anything the blade flew out of her hand and stuck into the table. Buffy looked at Ashlyn and her eyes hardened.
“Who are you? What do you want?”
“Sit down Buffy, I think we need to talk. I will be truthful, and you have nothing to fear from me. In fact, I may be able to help you.”
“How could you help me?” Buffy was a bit sarcastic, but she was curious.
“I am not all I appear.”
Buffy jumped up quickly. “I knew something was strange with you! Who are you?”
“Sit down. Your jumping around me is getting tiring. I want to explain if you will sit down long enough.”
Buffy sat down, looking intently at Ashlyn as she spoke.
“I am different from you and everyone else in this town. Do you believe in different dimensions, Buffy?”
“Yes, I have had some experience. Are you about to tell me you are a creature from somewhere else?”
“Well, I guess you could use that analogy, but I am a person. I do come from another dimension, but I am not bad.” Ashlyn smiled at Buffy. “I feel things, and know things that are out of the ordinary. There is much I can do.”
“Like what? What could you know that other people don’t?”
“I know you have had your far share of challenges, and even though I wasn’t supposed to be here, I am, so I may as well help you. Let’s just leave it at that for now, shall we?”
Buffy got up, and as she looked at Ashlyn, she found herself looking deeper into the eyes of the one sitting across from her.
“Ok, I am going to say something that will either make me a friend or an enemy, but at least you will know I am telling you the truth.” Ashlyn inhaled a deep breath, closed her eyes and let her mind wander through the life scents of the house. “Illness, fear, sister… no… energy. Vampires, demon, anger …”
Buffy looked at Ashlyn with amazement. She was so frightened by the list Ashlyn rhymed out to her. “What is all …” She was cut off by the look in Ashlyn’s eyes. The green of her eyes was a deep emerald colour, which was extremely threatening.
“Don’t doubt me, I know! I will help if you will let me.” Ashlyn spoke in an even tone, almost soothing. It made Buffy stop her rant, and pay attention.
“I know your Mom is ill, I know your sister … is special.” Ashlyn looked at Buffy, her eyes piercing as she spoke. “You are also special, a killer of sorts … vampires, demons. You are angry because things have gone wrong, a secret you were hiding, the Key…”
“Stop! How do you know all this? Who told you?”
Before Buffy could say any more, Ashlyn got up from the chair, and stretched her arms out to Buffy. Her face softened as Buffy watched it carefully. Ashlyn spoke softly, “Come here. I know what you need.”
Ashlyn saw the reluctance in Buffy’s face, so she took the few steps between them and wrapped her arms around Buffy, holding her close as she crooned. “You will be fine. You are so scared and tired. Your judgement is off, so you don’t know good from bad. Go to bed little one and sleep. No questions just go.”
Ashlyn released her and Buffy just walked upstairs and went to bed, as if in a trance.
Buffy woke the next morning and as she sat up and stretched, she got a whiff of coffee. She grabbed her robe and headed for her Mother’s room. She opened the door, and Joyce was nowhere to be seen! The bed was made, the curtains pulled open and everything was all nice and tidy.
“Mom, where are you?” Buffy flew out of the room and started for the stairs when she heard the reply.
“I am in the kitchen. Coffee is on and pancakes will be ready in a few minutes.”
Buffy rounded the corner and entered the kitchen. There stood her Mother all dressed and standing at the stove tending the pancakes. Ashlyn was sitting at the table with a cup of coffee in front of her. She smiled at Buffy.
“Good morning. Did you have a good sleep? Your Mom and I are having a great conversation; she is so easy to talk to.”
Buffy cut in, “Mom, what are you doing? You are supposed to be in bed resting!” Buffy looked around and saw all the dishes done and all the mess cleaned up. The floors even looked like they had been freshly washed. “Mom, will you listen to me, stop it!” Buffy stamped her foot to make herself heard, and to make her point.
Joyce turned around and looked at Buffy. Her face shone with a healthy glow, something that had been missing for a long time. There was no indication of pain, and her Mom was acting like nothing was wrong. “I woke up this morning feeling like a whole new woman. The pain was gone, the scar from the surgery was gone, and the weakness was gone. Buffy, it’s like none of it ever happened. I thought I was losing my mind.” She plated up the pancakes and set them on the table. “Help yourself girls.”
Joyce sat down and grabbed a couple of pancakes. Just before she started to eat, Buffy started speaking again. “Mom, how? What happened?”
“All I know,” Joyce started to explain, “Is when I woke up this morning I felt good. When I got up I felt strong. I went to the door and when I opened it your friend was walking by. We introduced ourselves and we started chatting. I told her what was happening, and even asked her if I was still dreaming. She,” Joyce looked at Ashlyn and smiled, “is a lovely person, and she told me if I felt good, and believed I was ok, I would be fine.”
Buffy swung her head around and started at Ashlyn. “I just met you last night, and now you think you can replace the doctors who have been working on my Mom?”
Ashlyn smiled slightly and looked at Buffy with soft eyes. “Buffy, relax. I think if you slowed down, did some things for yourself, and believed in good things instead of just who you are, your life will be a whole lot better.” Ashlyn winked at her, as if giving her a small sign that all was right with her world.
Buffy sat down and the three of them finished breakfast in silence. Just as they were cleaning up the front door opened and voices filtered through, the sounds of plans being made.
“Is anyone here? Buffy, where are you?” Willow was talking louder than normal and heading into a monumental babble.
Buffy left the kitchen and met Xander and Anya first. Willow and Tara followed close behind. “Shush you guys, you could wake the dead. Come in the kitchen.” Buffy turned and started back when she heard Xander reprimanding Willow for all the loud voice when they came in. Willow looked like she was about to sulk for the telling off as they approached the kitchen doorway.
They all turned into the kitchen and stopped dead in their tracks when they saw a very healthy looking Joyce standing at the counter making coffee for everyone. They all bounded towards Joyce with shill screams of joy. Their arms wrapped around her as they all started to ask questions.
“What happened? How did you get better? You look great!”
“Sit down everyone. Let me get you all a coffee.” Joyce poured all the cups and set them on the table. She looked down at all the faces staring at her. “I don’t know what happened, but I woke up this morning feeling so good, as if nothing was ever wrong.
Ashlyn, oh goodness no one has introduced you all yet, I am so sorry. Ashlyn is a friend of Buffy’s and she is staying with us for a while. Ashlyn, this group is Buffy’s friends from school. This is Xander, Anya, Willow and Tara.”
“It’s nice to meet you all.” Ashlyn nodded to each in order, taking in the responses she was receiving. Xander held his hand out to shake hers, a smile on his face. “Nice to meet you.” Anya held Xander and smiled a half-hearted smile, “yes, it is.” Willow looked at Ashlyn with a scornful look, feeling like there is something they are being left out of. “Hi.” Tara smiled at her softly, liking the feeling of confidence that was coming from Ashlyn. “Hello, nice to meet you.”
Ashlyn stood up, and she looked directly at Buffy. “I will leave you with your friends and speak to you later. I don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable with me here while you all chat. I will go upstairs and wait in your room.” Ashlyn turned and left the kitchen before Buffy or anyone else could reply to her statement.
“In your room? She is making herself to home, isn’t she?” Willow spoke as if Ashlyn was intruding into her life.
“She stayed here last night. I found her in the cemetery and she was lost, so I brought her home for the night. She may be here for a few days.”
“You invited a stranger into your home? What’s wrong with you, not to mention your Mom being so ill? Buffy, what were you thinking?” Willow exclaimed in a low voice disbelieving that Buffy could be so irresponsible.
“Do you think I invited her in? Do you think I am that stupid? Will, what is going on in your head, what’s the matter with you?”
Buffy was getting angry, and starting to wish they would all go away. “I opened the door and stepped aside, letting her enter first, the way we are all supposed to treat unknown people. Why are you looking for trouble?”
“I’m not; you just seem to be acting a bit strange.” Willow shut up after this line as Buffy’s face was showing signs of stress and anger.
Buffy looked at everyone at the table, “Go away! Go home! I don’t care, just get out!” She turned and left the kitchen, heading up to her room. She opened the door, went in and closed the door behind her. “Grrr!”
There was suddenly a knock on the door she leaned on, and a meek voice calling her name. “Buffy, it’s me, Xander, let me in.”
Buffy opened the door to confront him, but when she saw the worry in his eyes, she stepped aside and let him in. He saw Ashlyn sitting on the bed and stopped. “Are you guys ok? I don’t want to intrude… yes I do! I am worried that something is up and you are trying to hide it.”
Ashlyn smiled at Xander, “You are a good friend to Buffy, Xander. Everyone needs a special friend, and I have the feeling you are the one.” She smiled at him, making him turn shades of red. “Do you mind sharing?”
Xander sputters and chokes as he slowly backs up, his face totally emblazoned as he spits out a few words, “Oh... umm… I better… Anya waiting... will talk later.” Xander turns and charges out and down the hall, disappearing quickly down the stairs. Ashlyn breaks out laughing and looks at Buffy. “He is adorable, and he is your best friend.”
“Yes he is and a bit strange at times, as you just witnessed.” Buffy started to feel heat moving up her neck and starting to engulf her face. She turned so Ashlyn didn’t notice.
“To late Buffy, and don’t be embarrassed by me hearing things like that. He is a male after all, and I so understand the male mind.”
“Huh?” Buffy turned and looked a bit confused.
“I know far more than you give me credit for, and I think it is a good time to fill you in a bit.” Ashlyn patted the side of the bed, “You better sit down for this chat.” Buffy moved silently to the bed, and sat cross-legged facing Ashlyn. She stayed silent as she looked at Ashlyn as she shifted to sit the same way. Ashlyn’s eyes connected with Buffy’s and she started to speak in a low voice.
“Buffy, what I am about to tell you will no doubt sound way off base for you, but I guarantee it is the truth. I do not play games and I do not do mind tricks. I tell people in the straightest manner possible what I think of what I see and hear, and try to help some people who I feel need a boost in life. The first thing I would like to do is introduce myself properly. My name is Ashlyn Dreamcaster and I am from the land of Tapaca. I found myself here purely by accident, but after meeting you I will not say it was a waste of time. I healed your Mother by the way, because I believe you need her more than you know. Your sibling, Dawn, is a magical construct made from the Key, but I will fix that too. She will not be the Key forever.”
Buffy looked completely overwhelmed, and quickly asked, “How do you know what Dawn is? She is my sister!” Buffy was getting quite distraught so Ashlyn calmed her.
“I know she was made by the Monks, to protect her identity as the Key, and sent to you for protection. I also know Glorificus is looking for her, so I am going to help you. I want you to be the best you can be, and I most of all want you to believe in yourself for who you are. I see so much self-doubt in you. You think you need your friends and you let them tell you what to do and when. Buffy, you are the slayer. No one should be telling you anything unless it’s positive.”
Ashlyn takes Buffy’s hand and continues. “I want to take you home with me. Just for a little while.” As they are talking the front door slams shut and Dawn’s voice is heard. Ashlyn hears her going into the kitchen. “Dawn is home now, it is the perfect time. They will be completely safe. We will only be gone for about fifteen minutes, how’s that?”
“Umm, I suppose so, as long as we won’t be gone any longer.” Buffy needed to know all would be good while she was away. “Promise me.”
“I promise.” Ashlyn smiled and smoothed her other hand over her headband.
The bed now sat empty in Buffy’s room.